Disneyland in Anaheim, California, was the first Disney park to open back in 1955. Since then, Disney has opened five additional parks and a variety of other themed travel experiences, and, along with them, a rich history that many visitors may never even notice without a little digging.
See, you don’t need to know Disney’s secrets or history to enjoy a vacation there, but one could certainly argue that a trip to Disney becomes even more enjoyable when you do learn these fascinating bits of Disney’s past.
Walt Disney had plans to build a ski resort.
In the 1960s, after the opening of Disneyland in California, Walt Disney set his sights on building a ski resort in Mineral King Valley. According to the OC Register, Disney did purchase the necessary land and was in the planning stages of building the resort, but the project was held up by locals and environmentalists who opposed the project. After Walt’s death in 1966, the project was dropped.
It’s not all bad news, though, because management shifted their focus to an even bigger project in Florida called Disney World. And those Country Bears who so happily perform at Disney World were planned to take up residence at the ski resort, making it technically one of the last attractions Walt Disney personally worked on.
Dole Whip most popular pineapple treat at Disney.
Although you can probably purchase a Dole Whip at your local zoo or make it yourself at home, the tropical soft-serve treat has become synonymous with Disney.
Many of the dinosaur fossils used at Animal Kingdom are real.
Joe Rohde, the Imagineer who headed up the team that brought us Disney World’s Animal Kingdom, often reveals inside information on the park and its inspiration, including the fact that anything “that looks like a fossil of a prehistoric creature…is either a real fossil of a prehistoric creature or a replica of the real fossil.“
He specifically mentions that the fossils inside the queue for Dinosaur are very much real. Even the fossils that aren’t real are usually casts of real fossils, including Dino-Sue, a 13-foot tall, 40-foot long T-Rex, and the largest, most complete T-Rex fossil ever found.
Legendary cast members are honored throughout the parks, but you have to know where to look.
Next time you are walking down Main Street U.S.A. in one of the Disney parks, make sure to look up. Disney legends are often recognized with their very own window, usually depicting a fictitious business inspired by their real-life hobbies and passions. Often, Disney finds other ways to immortalize these individuals that aren’t as obvious to passersby, but are possibly even more meaningful for their sheer creativity.
One of the original Disneyland train cars was named for Walt Disney’s wife.
Walt and Lillian Disney first met when she worked in the company’s Ink and Paint Department. Walt would sometimes drive her home from work in his car, and later named one of Disneyland Railroad’s original train cars after her. After they were married, Walt built a miniature steam power train in his own backyard and named it “Lilly Belle” after his beloved.
When the Disneyland Railroad opened in 1955, Lilly’s namesake train car could regularly be seen on the tracks. While no longer being used in Disneyland’s day-to-day operations, they do sometimes bring the car out for special occasions.
Tarah Chieffi of Insider has written more interesting Disney tidbits that can be read here: